« "Blessed are the peacemakers" | Main | Good news in the Levant »

11 July 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Ah, a thread that's not too horribly removed from a question I've been meaning to ask and therefore one I don't have to apologize so much for.

After you folks are done telling us about this missle business could someone please tell me at least about these "bunker buster" bombs? I know that it's conventionally stated that Israel could do only very limited damage to Iran's nuke facilities even with these BBB's we've given 'em but I assume that's because they have a limited number of planes and etc.

But what about us and our BB's? Did we give Israel the same kind we have all the way up to our biggest? What could our biggest really do? Etc., etc.

I.e., even if *we* attacked Iran what damage could we really do?


(And, P.S., has anyone else seen that report from some Pakistani paper that the the U.S. has already given Israel overflight rights in Iraq and has had Israeli planes landing and etc. at U.S. airbases in Iraq already, at night and etc.? Does anyone know any more of this? Is interesting, I daresay.)


The 'white transporter" with 6 axle was in the 2006 exercise too.


List of Iranian solid fuel missiles


The faked photo is amusing, but UK broadcasters ( BBC, Sky, Channel 4 ) were showing Iranian TV footage of the 3 launches all day with the fourth rocket stuck on its launcher.

The western press is "claiming" that the doctored photo came from the Sepah website - but I guess busy journalists throughout the Western world simply didn't have the mental capacity to make the comparison with the broadcast TV footage that had been playing the day before, or use a screen-grab of the live footage. D'oh!

Then again, the Iranians did a similar mass test firing of these types of missiles last year - so we're not exactly in new territory with any of this. The hysteria is a tad overdone - but, hey, the Iranians just added an additional 175 million to their oil revenues for next week's lifitings, so they ain't exactly complaining!

The missile shown is probably a medium range variant of the Shahab ( 1000km or so range ) - a class of missile that the Iranians have been upgrading and testing since 1998 with metronomic regularity.

Spider Rider

I was curious as to the timing of this "launch," coming as it did on the heels of the Czech missile defense signing.

Even if this was indirectly a Russian "show of power," (asymmetrically, through Iran) it was rather weak.

I'm not sure Russia is using Iran as a proxy, but given the problems the UK is having with Russia, also, it's a very curious move, almost American neocon in it's flaming idiocy, conveying NO internal recognition of Russia's true lack of power, a Potemkin army.

The ability to bomb Tel Aviv is not the same as achieving world strategic dominance, this is less about arms, and more about having the intellectual resources to play your opponent, and his striking weaknesses, despite his corruption, or attempts to manipulate world oil, or world markets.

Isn't it a bit like gaming the hardly capable Dick Cheney?


I don't know, but if you tilt your computer about 35 degrees to the left, they are a threat to Israel.


I believe the doctored photo shows the launch failure of a Zelzal 1/2 series rocket. Comparative stills available at: http://uskowioniran.blogspot.com/2008/05/iranian-ballistic-missile-gallery-pt-1.html [second photo from the bottom].


The photos show medium/long range artillery rockets (compare with Soviet FROG-7...http://www.geocities.com/havocka50/frog-7-DFST8304931.jpg), which explains the slanted angle of launch.

They are probably of the Zelzal series, some of which the Iranians claim are guided.

They don't speak to any threat to Israel (though apparently a Shihab-3 was also tested that day), but to Iran's ability to hit US bases in the Gulf and Iraq.



A bunker buster weapon is in essence an explosive coupled with some form of penetrator, so that the explosion can be embedded in the medium containing the target. The general idea is to get closer to the target, i.e., proximity is destiny!

In practice, it's more complicated than that, but the principles involved are straightforward enough. The goal is the destruction of an "HDBT" (a Hardened, Deeply-Buried Target). The target is hardened because it's constructed of massive amounts of reinforced concrete, and it's buried at depth in earth (soil, rock, what-have-you).

The hardening makes the target more resistant to destruction (so HDBT's are commonly use as command centers), and it makes the HDBT a lot trickier to locate, but HDBT's have an Achilles' heel that can be exploited if the target contains precision equipment (as a nuclear weapons production facility certainly would, since it's filled with lots of relatively delicate technology, e.g., centrifuges spinning at incredible rates).

This HDBT vulnerability arises from the phenomenon of spalling, where a blast-induced compression wave reflects off the inner surface of the target structure (i.e., the roof above one's head if you're inside with the miscreants involved) -- this reflection ejects the inner surfaces of buried structures so that giant chunks of masonry can be fired at the innards of the HDBT. Of course, this does not enhance the performance of delicate equipment inside, and it can also kill people very effectively, even if the HDBT itself is not breached directly.

Countermeasures to bunker busters exist, and are often much cheaper to deploy than it is to overcome them via better weapons. Some countermeasures are obvious, e.g., spoofing the location of the target by directing surface features (e.g., exhausts, entrances) far away from the target itself. Some are more subtle, e.g., engineering the surrounding earth to dissipate the blast so that less energy can be transmitted to the HDBT.

So like most weapons/target situations, it's a cat-and-mouse game of iterative improvements on each side.

The optimally-effective bunker-buster would involve a nuclear weapon, for reasons that are in large part about the characteristics of the blast involved and how it propagates through the HDBT. But getting a nuclear weapon deep enough into the ground so that one doesn't end up covering neighboring nations with radioactive fallout is likely an unsolved problem.

Much of the work on bunker busters and HDBT's is based on idealized physical and computer simulations, so there's a lot of uncertainty in how they will behave in actual practice. And a concern I have here is that all this bunker-buster saber-rattling we're hearing now might be the prelude to a demonstration experiment involving targets in Iran, i.e., a proving ground for HDBT destruction methods.

Sometimes untested new weaponry gets demonstrated by preludes to a major war, e.g., the bombing of Guernica in 1937. The whole idea is repugnant, but this worry does seem to fit the available data. HDBT's are a growth industry, and thus there's a strong incentive to develop and market a concomitantly-growing supply of weapons systems.


Video of the [non]launch can be seen here: http://uskowioniran.blogspot.com/2008/07/irgc-missile-test-video.html. Tough to tell, but I think the guy being interviewed may well be Jafari [enough personal investment to explain the Photoshop gambit?]. Rank insignia's right, but the shades aren't helping any...

@ Kieran - *Those* Zelzals are no threat to Israel - whatever ones have been resupplied into Lebanon, well they'd probably be viewed as a different matter, if prior IAF response is any indication. Suspect it rather focuses the mind as to the import of the task in discussions with Syria...


Kieran and JustPlainDave have it right. The missiles in the doctored photo are Zelzals. Here is a video that shows the Shahab launch (and it looks to be a 3a and not the longer-range 3b that everyone is worried about) and the Zelzals from the picture.

Man From Atlan

Here's the original photo from the Iranian website http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=63345&sectionid=351020101
Iran test-fires surface-to-sea missile
Fri, 11 Jul 2008 13:57:52
Iran has test-fired surface-to-sea missiles over the Persian Gulf during a military maneuver code-named the Great Prophet III.
I see only 3 missiles in the picture. Looks like AP was the agency that falsified the photo.

frank durkee

TomB A friend of mine sends me The Lekarev Report daily. it is written in isreal and has political and military comments. i have no sense of it's veracity. Today it reported that isreali planes were doing night landings in anbar province and that the suggestion was that the planes would take off from us bases for their attack on Iran.
So this is a different placement of the same rumour.


The photo shows the Zelzal-2 tactical missile launches and not the Shahab 3A launch, as can be seen in the TV footage provided – see http://www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=86113&videoChannel=1. For those interested, a technical discussion of the Shahab-3 and Zelzel-2 launches – which disputes several of Iran’s claims about the launches including that the Shahab launched was an improved, substantially longer range version – can be found at the Armscontrol Wonk web site http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1951/shahab-boasts#comment


The utter failure of the MSM to pursue any kind of exactitude in this is shocking but hardly surprising.

As Helen Thomas asked her colleagues (but not equals) when she was questioning Bush the Younger on torture "where is everybody?".

Even more revolting than morons acting "clever" are wimps acting "tough" -- and we have seen plenty of both lately.


from armscontrolwonk.com

"it is apparent that the missile launched yesterday is, in fact, an older, shorter range version Shahab-3A. Right off the bat, the footage shows a missile that looks strikingly similar to the baseline Shahab-3A. It has no outwardly identifying characteristics – a second stage, for example – to immediately differentiate it from the 3A. This leaves open the possibility that the “extended range Shahab-3” is just a longer version of the baseline 3A – same diameter, longer length first stage to accommodate more fuel. The difference in length would be apparent in a comparison of images of the launch today to images of the baseline Shahab-3A. However, just such a comparison reveals no difference."

Patrick Lang


Ok people. the slanty ones are Zeltsal FROG type artilery rockets which are not a threat to Israel, especially since the Iranians are nowhere near having a nuclear warhead.

There are also Shehab ballistic missiles (a few) in the Iranian videos. They don't have a nuclear warhead for those either. pl

Follow the Money

PR war for iran, photoshopping missile launches, teh Persians are devious!!

Spider Rider

I just cannot help but see it as interconnected, so much Kabuki theatre, with no meaning.

In the bigger picture, who is enabling Iran?

And if we can work around it, perhaps we can defend Israel, ourselves, and others subject to terrorism, without continual armed warfare, and with minimal loss of life.


whatever it is, that got to be the most "profitable" missile test in world history.

Oil price shot up $10, and DOW going down ~1%.

I think pretty soon even the Iranian figures out how profitable war mongering can be. All they have to do is put their money in world market via asian trader to short US portofolio.

Greed will take care the rest.

ok question to all experts:
if the Iranian already have reasonably reliable solid rockets. What prevent them to strap those into large liquid rocket and deliver heavy payload? Seems like logical step to me.

about bunker. Iran have something that a lot of country doesn't Massive amount of mountain range.

so instead of drilling down, they can drill up from base of mountain toward the center.

That will pretty much make all "gravity base" bomb useless, unless we want to destroy mountains. (that would be pretty expensive even with nuke) I am pretty sure Iran know a thing or two about mining and drilling. So building north Korea style deep mountain bunker would be pretty easy. (plus defending a mountain from bombardment is a lot easier than open flat space)

Also: by now they know exactly F-16 radar profile. (Pakistan, Venezuela, Norway all have F-16 in the junk yard) That would render Israel F-16 pretty useless without massive cover.


World War III - brought to you by Photoshop.



These missile launches were part of what had been a regularly scheduled military exercise (Noble Prophet); an exercise the Iranians themselves said some months back that they would hold in July.

Of note, Iran also said it would continue to launch their space launch vehicles (they flew one in February) - perhaps as a prelude to placing a satellite in LEO.

All the hyperventilating over a regularly scheduled exercise is amazing. Demonstrates how high the gain is turned up in the global media front over the coming Israel/Iran War. Just as Gardiner, the good Colonel and others predicted.

Hopefully some sanity will emerge... or at least calmer news peoples.


dilbert dogbert

As this is a missile thread I want to get an idea off my pea brain: If Iran really wanted to F*ck with us in Iraq they would have provided the bad guys with some effective anti aircraft missiles. Maybe I have been in my cave too long but I haven't heard of any being used against our troops. Any of you smart people can enlighten me?

different clue

As a layman, I would not know or understand the difference between missiles launching slantwise or straight up without being told. But even I can tell that the Shehab missile truck and the missile truck in the doctored photo are two different missile trucks. On the face of things it would appear that people trying to fake the case for an imminently dangerous nuclear-missilized
Iran would fake the photo.

But the crude sloppiness of the fake makes my tinfoil
mind wonder..could it have been a crude sloppy fake made on purpose to be detected as a fake? A "fake fake" designed to be
outed in such a way as to make it appear that Israel has been "caught red handed"
passing out fake intelligence photographs? In order to discredit the hype and deflect the march to war?

I don't really believe it
is a "fake fake" , but could
one understand why the crude
sloppiness of the fake might
arouse such suspicion? Are the Israelis really dumb enough to make such a crude fake and think it won't be caught? Or is it more likely that some of "Israel's little helpers"
did it on their own initiative? I can see Feith, Perle, or Cheney being dumb enough to think the photo-shoppery is something less than laughably
transparent. If Israeli intelligence themselves did this, they must think the mass-median audience is awfully dumb. Could they be


Cieran wrote:

A bunker buster weapon is in essence an explosive coupled with some form of penetrator..."

Well thank you very much Cieran, you appear scarily knowledgeable. But a couple of further questions if you don't mind:

What do you mean by "penetrator"? Is this some explosive thing too? Your wording makes it sound like not. So what the hell are they? Groundhogs or badgers mounted on the tip, teeth and claws bared? Just real *real* pointy tips?

And can you tell us—without divulging anything that might be secret or even just helpful to potential adversaries otherwise —just how deep these things can go theoretically?

I'm thinking ... can we really hurt Iran if it's taken big precautions? And what about using these penetrator things for peaceful purposes? You ever see how deep they sink the pilings for some structures? What a helluva innovation; just drop one of these things and whammo, journey to Jules Verne, no? Pour your cement and you're done.


Clifford Kiracofe

Well, it is perfectly obvious these missiles are constructed from very special aluminum tubes. They are loaded with uranium yellowcake from Niger which Iran obtained from Iraq prior to the 2002 war. Furthermore, they pose an existential threat to the Zionist entity. This is because the radiation from yellowcake will only incinerate Jews (secular and religious) and not the Palestinian Christians and Muslims resident in Israel. Plus nothing will drift into Syria and Jordan owing to the precision nature of the guidance systems obtained from Hizbollah which stole them from the Israelis.

Pretty diabolical I'd say. Obviously this is part of the "End Times" scenario.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad